Audiobook Discussion

Audiobook Discussion

  • Introduction: What we  will talk about today

    • How to prepare for an audiobook

      • Manuscript

      • Audition script

      • Platform

      • Financial approach

 

  • This week in critiques:

    • Emily: the PoV is at odds with the story.

      • Inside character’s head but still keeping secrets.

    • The Dress in Mike’s story & target audience

    • J’s student requesting feedback...


 

Preparing the Audition & Manuscript

  • Polished Manuscript

    • Edited, particularly grammar and spelling, becauses they will read it as is.

    • Listen to your manuscript

      • When thoughts could be understood as dialogue

        • Fix with tags

      • When dialogue could be understood as thoughts

        • Fix with tags

      • Tongue Twisters, and excessive alliteration

        • Example:

          • Peter Piper Picked a …

          • Louise Lane loved long lavender ...

      • Pronunciation of strange words,  or non-english(native/base language words) words

        • Include pronunciation guide or links

          • My own manuscript had both Portuguese, Spanish, and Latin

            • Voc Populi Voc Dei

    • Character Sketches for major characters

      • Character comparison to an actor in a specific roll. Links to that in a video  clip

        • William Stephenson

          • Sean Connery as John Mason in The Rock

      • Details on how the character reacts in various emotionally tense situations, particularly if that is contrary to a common response.

        • Alice Taylor finds violence funny.

    • Sub character details

      • Is there anything in the manuscript that will help the Narrator know how to read certain minor characters

        • Kelly - mentioned he had a southern accent

        • Lawyer in Florida

          • HE gave them southern accents because Florida is part of the south.

        • Becky Davis: high nasal voice

    • Audition Script

      • Contain selections from each major character in at least 2 different emotional situations

      • Contain thoughts & PoV narrative for the two most prominent characters.

        • See how each narrator differentiates thoughts from dialogue for the character will the most screen time.

        • See how the narrator approaches the general narrative differently for each PoV character.

          • Not all will.

      • Attach your character sketches

    • Do You Have the audio rights?

      • Relevant if you’ve gone through traditional publishing

        • Lisa Wilson

          • Traditional Publishing, but contract allowed her to retain Audio Rights

Platforms & Finding Talent:

  • Old School Agency Contact

    • Contact Talent Agencies and get listed as a project

    • Interested parties will contact you and take part in the audition

      • Submission

      • Live audition

  • ACX

    • Only Available in US & Canada

      • Companies in the US and Canada will take you on as a client and submit to ACX for you.

    • 7 Year Contract: for Royalty Share

  • D2D (Voices)

The Others

  • Whisper Sync

    • 97% match to text

  • Royalty Share vs. Per per produced hour

Marketing for this week:

    • Focus on one thing at a time. Stick to your marketing plan.

Evolving the Character Lie: Part 2 of Positive Arcs

Evolving the Lie: Positive Character Arcs Part2

 

Evolve the Character’s belief in the Lie

The inciting incident or something near the end of the first character should shift your character’s belief about the lie. In Star Wars Luke learns from Obi-Wan that his father fought the empire alongside the old Jedi Knight. This influences Luke because he has always been interested in the rebellion, but now it feels like a family legacy. He father didn’t just fly freighters, he fought. It also introduces the idea that people are not honest about who Luke’s father.

Clear Up from Last Time:

Travis asked about the difference between Batman’s prolog approach to the wound, and P.S. I Love You’s inciting incident.  The difference is what events kicks off the story. The prolog event is not why Bruce becomes Batman. It’s why he’s lost in life. He becomes Batman after being trained by the League of Shadows. He adopts some of their philosophy, but when asked to kill the thief. He refuses, killing many of the members, and destroying their headquarters in a fire. That is the inciting incident.

Review:

The character has a want and a need. The lie is a belief that drives them towards what they want. The truth will lead them towards what they need.

 

Dilemmas and the Lie:

Structuring character development and revealing it often hinges the use of dilemmas. We’ve covered these before in their different types:

            Two things you want buy you can only have one

            Two things you don’t want, but you have to choose.

            A blend both choices have something the character wants and doesn’t want.

The dilemma serves to create a kind of checkpoint. Here we can see not only what the character chooses, but how they choose. It reveals their progress towards embracing the truth.

Star Wars: after being captured by the Empire Han Solo just wants off the ship, then he hears the words “princess, ” and it catches his interest. He has a choice. Stay focused on only escaping, or save the princess. Luke says “we’re not leaving without her,” and it forces Han to go along, but for a very small moment he hesitates on his ‘me first attitude.’

 

Act 2

In the second act, the character is punished for acting in accordance with their lie. At the beginning of the first act the lie was empowering to them, but now, it only creates problems, a stumbling block as they work towards what they want.

As a result of these failures, the character evolves their tactics, creating the Try Fail Cycle.

A glimpse of life without the lie, and it’s pretty awesome. How to Lose a Guy in 8 Days … she spends the weekend with his family.

Scrooge gets a glimpse of his life if had married Belle

 

Midpoint Turn: for character Lie

At the midpoint the character begins to shift:

Han Solo is only in it for the money; until he meets princess Leia on the Death Star at the midpoint.

 

The mirror moment:

This is also called the mirror moment, when the character sees themselves in the mirror and now see the truth as a possibility to get what they want, instead of the lie.

This does not mean the character rejects the lie. It just means they now have two options for pursuing what they want [still not what they need]. ---

Star Wars: Han Solo thinks if he rescues the Princess he can get more money. Helping people, without the promise of money, but the possibility. It’s a shift.

They will continue to believe the lie, but begin to act in accordance with the truth (some of the time).

 

Post Mid-Point Lie

 

The character needs an opportunity to experiment on his new found truth, a chance where he is given a choice to act in accordance with the lie, or the new truth, and decides to go with the new truth.

It should be a debate and struggle to make this choice; a catalyst will lead him to make a choice based on the truth, not the lie.

This conflict in the character between the old lie and new truth is ripe for creating a dilemma in the character, and a great place for internal conflict. If you don’t have some of these in Act 2 Part 2, you need to look again.

In Plot vs. Character, Jeff Gerke calls this “vacillation escalation” as the character acts on truth, turns back to the back and forth and back forth until a catalyst or time crunch forces a decision, and action.

            Great Example from K. M. Weiland’s Creating Character Arcs, In Toy Story Woody is helping Buzz escape from Sid’s place because he needs him to be accepted by the other toys, he doesn’t like Buzz and is still filled with jealousy, but he’s helping him out of selfish reasons. Woody is torn, helping Buzz hurts his “want goal,” but without Buzz, the toys will refuse to let Woody back in.

 

Contrast Your Character’s Before and After mindsets

            Think of a problem and how they would approach it while believing the lie?

            Think of how they would solve after accepting the truth?

            The Intersection: the character reaches a similar crossroads as before, but makes a different choice. In the first half, he sees the homeless man and then throws his uneaten fast food into the garbage bin. In the second half, he sees the homeless man gives him the uneaten food, along with all the loose bills in his wallet.

            This provides a dramatic representation of change and character progression.

 

The Great Dilemma: Want vs. Need

The great dilemma between the thing he wants and the thing he needs.

            Harry Potter: wanted friends, to fit in, to belong and he found that at Hogwarts with Ron Hermione, but he has to leave them, not knowing if they will be okay. He wants to stay with them, but he has a higher calling. He needs to stop Voldemort.

            Jeff Gerke on the Great Dilemma: “ [The protagonist] comes to understand both the promise and price of the two ways. He comes, in other words, to truly understand his choice... The moment … is not complete unless the hero understands not only what he stands to gain by choosing one option over the other, but also what he stands to lose.”

            Readers know about positive arcs. They know deep down your protagonist will choose the ‘need.’ You can throw off their confidence by having a subplot/minor character choose the want.

Throughout the second half of the second act, beginning of the third the character is divided over the truth and lie. They want one but haven’t abandoned the other. This is developed in two ways. Interiority & choice dilemmas.

The character is uncertain about both the truth and lie. They vacillate back and forth. In the third act, they keep looking back, wondering if they made the right choice.

            Example: Scrooge sees his nephew and the happiness of the Crotchet family, and he wants those things, but he hasn’t given up on his greed yet.

 

ACT 3

They have embraced the truth, but then they have a crisis of faith. A sudden rush of doubt a “What have I done moment” when the living the truth challenges them more than they thought, and they want to run back to their old life.

Once the character has embraced the truth, they need to have this new-found belief challenged. A situation arises that would make their life easier in the short term if they maintain the lie.

·         Example: Scrooge wakes from in the morning, and for the briefest moment considers it was all a dream. He can go back to his old ways immediately. He doesn’t have to change.

·         Example: In Cars, the media finds Lightning McQueen, and he can leave without fulfilling the terms of his court appointed punishment.

o   When Lightning McQueen is despondent and missing his friends in Radiator Springs, he’s mocked by Schick for not being focused.

It’s best if this final attack on the lie is part of the climax, as in Scrooge, but it can be assaulted more than once, so make sure to save the greatest assault for the climax, or very close to it.

How will your character’s devotion to the new truth be challenged?

The Climax and Character Change [Positive Arc]

How does your character prove he’s changed? Is it high enough value for the character.

·         Example: Lightning McQueen has brought his friends from Radiator Springs to be his pit crew, illustrating his change, but he hasn’t faced his great dilemma yet. That moment comes at the climax when Schick attacks King, putting him out of commission. Now, McQueen faces his great dilemma; win the piston cup, or help King. The high value of this moment tests the character change in McQueen.

How does the change help your character defeat the antagonist?

·         Example: McQueen slams on his breaks before the finish line and helps King finish his race. He loses the piston cup, but the noble act changes the way everyone feels about Schick. He’s not celebrated for winning. McQueen is celebrated for the act of help to King, and Schick's victory is empty. McQueen’s loss is celebrated, and garners the support of everyone, from his friends to the sponsors.

Understanding the Character Lie: POSITIVE Arcs Part 1

Types of Character Arcs:

·         Positive change

·         Negative change

·         No change, steadfast [world tries to force them to change and they refuse]

·         Steadfast Character Example: Harry Potter vs. Ms. Umbridge – Harry is right, and never changes. He is steadfast.

o   “The Main Character of a story does not have to fundamentally change their point-of-view. Some grow by maintaining their resolve against all odds.” -Narrative First

 

Focus on the Character lie: core for developing positive character arcs

K. M. Weiland gives the best explanation I've ever heard about character lies. They are like a tooth with a cavity. Most people hate the dentist and avoid it. When a tooth starts to go bad, we avoid dealing with it. We chew on the other side of our mouth, avoid crunching food and gum, and it can go on for years like this [Castaway] but the rot continues to build and get worse, and cause problems until eventually it must be dealt with.

The character lie is a manifestation of most people perspectives on life. We think to ourselves if only ... I lose some weight ... get that promotion ... make more money ... get married ... etc ... then we will be happy. Science has informed us that these things are not true, but we still hold to them, because we want something to make us happier. This is exactly what your character has, an 'if only' goal, that is based on a lie. Happiness does not exist in the 'if only', the character will find it when they face the lie, and accept the truth.

That truth will help him understand what he needs instead of what he wants, change his journey [mid-point turn, or all is lost catharsis].

Finding the Lie:

In life we ask 'why' in fiction, we ask 'what causes', the second is not a vague concept, but a specific event, a story.

Once you know the characters lie, dig into their backstory and create an event that caused that lie about reality to form.

The Lie develops out of survival needs and dilemmas. At some point we make a choice to do well in one aspect of our lives over another. We work too much and our relationship suffer etc… Your character had to make this choice at some point, and it created the lie so they could live with it.

Other words: the 'ghost' or 'wound' refers to the event that created the lie

The lie is sometimes called 'the secret'

Four Approaches to story Ghosts

  1. Early Introduction: Sometimes origin stories use a prologue to give the full details of the ghost or wound to the reader.
    1. Think about the beginning of any Batman series, we see his family killed in the opening scenes, or Krypton being destroyed.
  2. The slow leak. Little bits of back story are dropped in the hope of stirring the reader’s curiosity and lure them further into the story.
    1. Darth Vader is Luke’s father. The ghost of Luke's father and his connection to rebellion are hinted at throughout the series, slowly shifting the narrative each time Luke hears the story until he finally hears the truth from Vader.
  3. The flashback. This method deals with a focus on the lie up front constantly causing problems in the character's life until they are eventually forced to face what happened in a lengthy flashback, or dialogue.
    1. The Expanse: Holden was born and raised to save the world [his families ranch].
    2. Huntress Moon: back story of the killer.
  4. The Ghost is the inciting incident: This is a very different type of story where there is little focus on the backstory, and happy people have something terrible happen to them, and it breaks them.
    1. P.S. I Love You: They are happily married and he dies, and it breaks her. The lie develops then and there: she thinks she will never be happy again.

Deciding which is best will depend on your story and rely on feedback. In one of my writing groups a girl had a story where the Ghost was that the heroine was actually a pornstar, she also saw this as the big hook of the story. It was revealed in act 1, and didn't hook anyone. The early introduction uses the Ghost as a hook in the story. If the ghost doesn't hook readers you need to try a different method. As always feedback is key on finding what will work best your story.

Chunking the Ghost in a single chapter as an early introduction is an easy way to test the first method that doesn't involve a lot of rewriting. The same is true of the third method. So I recommend if your experimenting, try those two first. The second method is best approached by dropping your hint in a chapter and then getting specific feedback about it. If it doesn't stir people's curiosity, drop more or you need a better ghost.

Does the Wound need to be Revealed?

There are stories where the wound that created the lie is never revealed. In Cars, Lightning McQueen wants to be free from depending on other people/cars, but we never discover why. The storytellers decided that it wasn’t essential to the narrative, that the precious screen time was better spent on other things.

It’s possible that because his lie is so common and easy to relate to that the storyteller worried we connect less if they knew the backstory.

Kindle Scout & Better Verbs: Interview with Kerry Donovan

Summary

Kerry Donavon takes fiction writing as seriously as he did his work with scientific articles. Every verb is weighed and measured, and when the work is done he ensures that someone else gives the manuscript the same scrutiny, so nothing is missed.

In an attempt to expand his reach Kerry submitted to Kindle Scout and we cover all the details of what it means in terms of campaigns, royalties, and rights if your accepted into the program.

Highlights

In 2009 and I wanted to get back to what I always wanted to do, write fiction, but that’s when I started to really learn how to write fiction. It’s entirely different than any other kind of writing. There is no endto the difference between the two.

I decided I’m too old to be discovered, so I went with self-publishing. Also, I don’t have to wait 18 months to two years for my book to come out.

The best answer to the question all writers get asked: how fast do you write a book. “As fast as I can.”

I found out at 3:00 a.m. that I was accepted into the Kindle Scout program. I was so excited I accidently woke my wife. She thought we were being burgled.

A great example of classic over writing is “John sat down.” You don’t need to write “down” because you only ever “sit up” if you’re already sitting, and slouching.

If you write “John went to the car” grammatically it’s perfectly fine, but dramatically it’s like a slap with a wet sponge. The problem is “went”. It’s dull. It’s one of those vague verbs and you might as well write a yawn in there.

Inside the Character’s Head: Interview with Lee Isserow

Summary
 

The great strength of the written word is interiority. The ability to get inside of the character’s head. No other medium of storytelling allows for that, there are monologs and voice-overs, but it’s not the same. Only in literature can we see the world the way the character sees it, and Lee Isserow is a master of interiority.

Highlights

I learned to really develop a plot by working in a writer’s room. We spent a lot of time discussing all the different options for the story, and each character, and now I recreate that in my head to shape a unique and interesting story.

The very deep interiority of the novel is developed by putting a lot of myself into the character.

I love writing novels because with a screenplay there’s an outline, then a treatment, then a synopsis, but with a novel, I can just get the story out.

The first year I was only selling between 2 and 5 books a month, but things have really turned around recently after developing my mailing list, getting on Instafreebie and really interacting with my readers.

A great advantage that movies and films have in storytelling is the soundtrack, the use of music to evoke emotion in the audience. Lee Isserow makes soundtracks for his books.

Touch Sensitive
By Lee Isserow

Writing for the End of the World: W C Hoffman Interview

Summary

W. C. Hoffman writes what he knows, the outdoors. His stories are a balance of character and action. They’re fast paced, but still keep the reader feeling like they know the characters, and understand them.

Highlights

My characters are very real and deep because they are based on real people, their mannerisms, their histories, even some of their names.

One thing that has really helped me develop my dialogue is switching to dictation for my pre-writing.

For marketing “First in series free” has been very good to me. My book didn’t really take off until I finished the third one.

Early on I made the mistake of not having a mailing list when I release my first book and didn’t capture those readers.

The best way to sell your book is to write the next one, and if that takes two years then write a short story that’s connected, or in the same world.

Twins of Prey
By W.C. Hoffman

How to Market with Twitter: Interview with Nathan Goodman

Summary

Nathan Goodman started his entire writing career with a single question, a simple “what if …” that has evolved into many stories about Jana Baker, a Special Agent for the FBI and role model for his young daughters.

His stories move at a pace few others can claim, and the stakes are constantly being raised, but I think his true brilliance is his marketing plan for Twitter and Facebook. Learn more in the interview.

Highlights

I wrote the prequel as a smaller book that I could put at the front of the series, and release for free as a way to bring in new readers. Hopefully, they will read through to the end of series.

One of the tricks I used on twitter was tweeting out other author’s books, and most of them would do the same in turn.

Eventually, I started using a lot of automation software to schedule tweets, and even retweet, because there was just so much to be done.

To help engage people on Twitter, I set up my auto messenger to simply ask “What are you reading right now,” then people realize there’s a person behind that account, and you can start a great conversation.

In some twitter marketing, I ask people if they like a certain author and if so they should check out my book, because a lot of these authors only release one book a year. So, there are a lot of fans who are looking for something else while they wait, and they can find my books.

One of the most effective tools for raising the stakes is a time clock. Every moment it ticks down raises the stakes just a little because failure is that much closer.

Where to Find his Work

http://nathanagoodman.com/

Interview with Mike Sahno

Summary

Mike Sahno is a literary author who spent seven years on his most recent book, more concerned with its perfection than anything else. He wanted to write something worth reading, something that people would read for many years to come, as he says himself, “No book is ever really finished, it’s abandoned.”

Highlights

No book is ever really finished. It’s just abandoned. If you want to make a living at this, you have to publish. My books are my babies, and it’s always a hard decision to make.

 

Mike grew up writing songs and poetry, as a result his prose, word choice and sentences read more like music. Even if literary fiction is not your genre, every writer should read his work to improve their own prose.

I wished I’d worried less when I first started writing. Worry doesn’t help any, and it’s never solved a problem.

Part of my marketing is a lot of blog and article writing, which is very different than novel writing, but as an indie, it’s how I market my book.

Series writers often give away the first book free to get people into the story, but since I don’t write that, I use short stories and even collections of short stories.

"There are times when you can convert an adverb to an action verb, but you'll lose something. Sometimes meaning is more subtly conveyed with the connotation you can only get from an adverb."

I think the hard rule of ‘don’t use adverbs’ is ridiculous. It’s a part of speech. Think about it, how many words in the English language are adverbs, that you can’t use. You must be judicious, but it’s also an important part of language.

 

What Christian Theology has to do with Fantasy Novels: Interview with Suzannah Rowntree

Summary

Suzannah draws her ideas from both myth, history and biblical sources creating stories that are mythic histories and steeped in Christian theology. She examines deep philosophies in simple fairy tale retellings, going deeper in the theme of stories like Beauty & the Beast than a simple warning about judging a book by its cover. She dives into such ideas as ‘once something is loved it becomes lovable.’

Highlights

I’d group my work with what’s called ‘Mythic History,' a blend history and myth.

My readers tell me the strongest part of my writing is my characters, and my approach is to see people as good, but a sin has tempted them to do bad things. Regardless of the character I’m writing I think ‘How would I justify this to myself?’

One thing I find difficult to handle is bad world building. I’ve read fantasies about nobles who live in incredible luxury, but there is nothing about the industry needed to support that, no silk weavers, no glass blowers, no farmers. I think how do they live like this if there is no one doing the work.

When picking beta reader, I try to find people who are really picky and hard to please.

As C.S. Lewis put it, we enjoy fantasy and fairy stories because they fill us with a sense of something beyond the world we live in.

Where to Find   and her work

http://www.vintagenovels.com/p/about-me.html

https://twitter.com/suzannahtweets/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8132033.Suzannah_Rowntree/

SW027: Write More

Summary

We discuss developing writing habits, and how to turn them into cravings, and the importance of learning to write everywhere.

We discuss what flow state is, and how to train yourself to reach it quickly.

Highlights

There are times when I hate everything I write, and constantly check the clock, but then there are times when it’s like I’m in a dream. I live in the story, and it flows out of me, and I wake up an hour, or sometimes 5 hours later. That is flow state. That is what you want to train your mind to do.

When I first started writing, I felt like if I didn’t have at least 45min, I couldn’t get into the story, and what happened was I only wrote twice a week. But learning to write a novel in 5min a day is not about only writing for 5min. It’s about learning to write at any time and learning to write anywhere.

There are two ways to look at writing in non-optimal environments. You can ask yourself, “Can I write in the subway?” Or you can challenge yourself, “Can I learn to write on the subway.” Once you master that, you can write anywhere, as long as you have your laptop, or just your phone if you do dictation.

Sometimes writing has to be interrupted so you can deal with the rest of your life, and if you’ve learned to reach a flow state, you need to set a timer or you will miss everything.

To create an addiction to writing, pair it with something else in life you crave. For me, it’s Swedish fish, for a long time I didn’t allow myself to buy them because no matter how many I bought that’s how many I’d eat in a day. If I bought a 5 lb. bag, I ate 5 lbs. Once you’ve made that pairing, have a barrier that you can strengthen, so you’re not constantly getting into it.

 

Why You Need to Write a Novel 5 Minutes at a Time: The Importance of Flow State Training.

What is Flow?:

If you're not familiar with the word, it's also called mindfulness, or simply intense focus. The best way to describe what it means is simply to explain my personal experience with it. Sometimes as I write, and I find myself constantly checking the clock for when my next break comes, but other times I can write for hours, and it's like I'm in a dream. I'm in the story; I become each character as they take their place in the spotlight. I cease to notice anything around me, then at some point it ends, and I wake up. That is a flow state. Most of the time it's only for 30min to an hour, but there have been times when I've written for 8 hours in such a states.

Why only 5 min?"

There is a two-fold purpose to learning to write in 5 min increments. The first is to see every 5min as an opportunity to write, 20min before you leave for work? Great, that's 4 times what you need. 10min waiting in a doctor's office? Awesome that's double what you need. The second is that when you write you want to reach flow state as fast as possible. This 5min period then becomes a testing and training ground.

Training Ground:

Part of reaching flow is simple practice. There was a time when I wouldn't even attempt writing write unless I had at least 45min because I really wanted to get into the story. What ended up happening is that I didn't write very much.

At 5min increments, you learn to simply write when you have time. All the little chunks of waiting in life can be filled with writing.

Teach Yourself to Write Anywhere

It's also a great opportunity to challenge yourself to see where you can write? Can I write on the subway? Or better yet can you learn to write on the subway? Learning to write in uncommon and un-ideal environments can help you carve out more time for writing. The End-all of this part of the process is so you can say, "All I need to write is my laptop. Nothing else matters, not the time, not the place." And don't forget, all you need for this is 5min at a time.

The next part of the training is finding what can help you reach flow state faster. Humans are hard-wired for habits and rituals. So you can use certain cues to jump start the process. Most writers I know use some type of music. I put in my headphones and hit my writing playlist; it jumps starts the process, suddenly my brain knows it's writing time because it can hear the music. Other sensory processes can be used to jump start this as well, such as smell or taste.

Finally, document your process, when you finish writing. Did you achieve flow or get closer to it? What did you differently that helped you get there? Did you have a hard time getting into the story? What didn't help? [Remember new additions to cues and routines will take a week or so to become contributors, so give them time. Track them daily, but evaluate after a week or two.]

Hard and Soft Timers:

As you begin to reach flow state in your writing, you will write well beyond the 5min mark, and as you work on training yourself, there will be times when the clock never seems to move. That's why I use soft and hard timers.

A soft timer is a stopwatch that makes sure I write for the allotted time before I can get my reward,(part of habit building and maintaining) but I prefer the soft timer because I don't want to be interrupted if I reach a flow state. I just want to keep writing; however, life has certain demands that must be attended to, and that why I use a hard time. This alarm will beep at me, interrupt me, so I can attend a meeting, do an interview or any other demand life has.

Routines, Habits, and Systems: Writing more on autopilot.

The difference between habits and routines

The terms routine and habit are often used interchangeably. One is a group of habits, the other is a single one. So I want to differentiate them right now. Habits are hard to change, we have a craving for them. Gambling, smoking, these are habits. Reward-driven behavior that people crave. A routine is just a pattern in our life and is easy to change with simple motivation.

At the end of the day what you really want is a system. A series of habits or a habit-stack that you constantly evaluate to improve its efficiency.

You Need a Reward

The first step is a reward. Whenever I talk to people about forming habit I always start here because this is what will create the craving. It's also the component most people leave out. I remember talking to a writer who had been working on novel for three years. I asked him about his reward system for writing, and his response was that "writing was its own reward." So I asked him how often he wrote. It was about twice a week. That's when I told him if writing was its own reward he would be doing it every day. He would be late for work because he needed to finish a chapter. As the saying goes "nobody likes writing, we like having written." A good reward is usually something you find yourself actively avoiding because you eat too much of it, do it often, or do it too long. Things that works best, are usually the things you avoid because you find them addicting or you can't control yourself around them very well.

Something you crave

A good reward is usually something you find yourself actively avoiding because you eat too much of it, do it often, or do it too long. Things that works best, are usually the things you avoid because you find them addicting or you can't control yourself around them very well.

For a long time I had a list of certain foods I wasn't allowed to buy, because regardless of how much I bought, I would consume it all in one sitting. If I bought a small bag of Swedish fish. I would eat them all by the end of the day. If I bought a 5lb. bag I would eat them all by the end of the day. So I stopped buying them.

It was only later that I realized I could use this intense craving to motivate almost any behavior. I just needed to find a way to prevent myself from overindulging, so I bought a tool box with a key lock. This serves as the barrier from the reward while the work is getting done. Most of the time the key just sits in a drawer, but on certain days I have to put it in my car. This is strengthening the barrier.

A System

I think the narrative explains the system for the most part but here it is in summary. First, find something you crave. Second, reward the habit you want with it. Third, set up a barrier to keep you from it until you've earned it. Fourth, document how you do each day. Look at where things work well, and where they fall apart, then try to structure habits around that. Once a habit is established expand on it, or stack it. Maybe it just 5min of writing and it gets expanded to 10 and eventually 45min followed 20min of reading a book on writing craft.

Through my own documentation, I found that one of the biggest lulls in my work day came around lunch. I would watch TV while I ate lunch, but when I finished I would keep watching to finish the show. As I looked at this problem I realized that I always craved something sweet after I ate, and I had a lot of Swedish fish in my lockbox. So I wanted to start a new habit. I would reward myself if I stopped watching TV as soon as I finished eating.

Writing Recovery: Commercial breaks vs. Recovery breaks.

The Duration of Human Focus

Focused human attention usually lasts between 20 and 40min. The type of activity, the intensity, and flow state all factor in and can create wide breaths of difference, but most of the time our optimal works in done in this time period and then our brain needs a break.

The amount of time you focus on a task is something you have to develop and find for yourself, and usually, has to factor in deadlines as well. What I want to cover today is the type of break you take in between those periods of productivity.

Commercial Breaks

In the age of the internet, television commercials feel like something of the past. They are trying to make a comeback, but they aren't what they were. During live television, they have regularly scheduled commercial breaks, but if you're really enjoying the show they don't feel like a break, a chance to recover and get ready for the next adrenaline rush. They are frustrating as they often come just when things are getting good. These breaks pay for the show you're watching, but they actually hurt its entertainment value.

Many of the breaks people take during a work project often look very similar. They are breaks from the project but they don't allow people to recover their focus and creativity. These generally come down to checking email, Facebook, and Twitter.

Bigger, but fewer Breaks

Most of the time there isn't much gained by this quick check, but the time they take up in a day slowly starts to add up. A few minutes each hour can start to look like 10min when complied, and over 90min by the end of the day. The thing is that 10min chuck is also a good break time to do something that will relax you and help you recover your focus and attention span.

Break with Intension

To make it work you need to chunk it. I know sometimes when I check Facebook or email I feel like I'm cheating on work, and I'm anxious, knowing I should just get back to work, so it's not relaxing. But if I've scheduled the break then I don't worry. I also tend not to spend it on Facebook, but prefer a book or something from my Youtube cue of funny videos. Something not work related, something to relax my mind so I'm ready to focus again. Simply put 'Break with Intension'. Know what you're going to spend your break on, and pick something you really enjoy, or you will simply wonder back to email and social media, and likely nothing has changed since you checked it last time.